Cable’s Hot Jobs & Most Sought Career Skills
Technology has far reaching implications on our industry’s job market. As new technologies emerge, new jobs are created throughout the company to successfully deploy, maintain, sell, and support them. Just think about when cable began offering the “triple play.” It dramatically changed the skills sets required for field technicians, trainers, the sales force, the marketing team, and customer service representatives—to name a few.
In current times, two technology factors are playing a significant role in shaping what’s hot in cable’s job market: the proliferation of online content delivery and MSOs’ focus on Internet, cellular and ground telephony service. According to CTHRA’s 2010 Compensation Surveys, these environmental forces have led to the birth of customer service telephony support positions, technical trainers and recruiters, digital video producer, digital encoder and server-based broadcast engineers. As we look at 2011, there are several trends worth noting.
The Hybrid Gains Traction
While technology is fueling the demand for some skills sets, the economy is reshaping others. One development we’ve seen is the integration of two distinct skills sets into one multi-faceted, hybrid role. pres/CEO Lisa Kaye shares an example. “One of my personal favorites is the preditor: a combination of a producer and an editor,” she says. “I think we will see more of these types of combo jobs created as companies consider cost-effective ways to not only reduce overall headcount, but also entice employees who have diverse talents.”
Engineers Are Hot!
Thanks to rapid technological advances, engineers and techies are highly desired commodities within our industry. I asked Kaye, whose company is a job posting aggregator for the media and entertainment industry, to identify where she has seen the spikes in technical job postings. Her response: “Industry employers are hiring software engineers, information technology (IT) professionals, and other technical positions that are critical to the deployment of new technologies like 3DTV, HD, and online content development.”
While a recent analysis by of 33K online technical job postings found that telecommunications engineering ranked among the top 15 specialty fields for 2011, our industry is not alone in its need for engineering talent. In fact, the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2011 found that the most hirable college seniors will be those who earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer sciences.
William Strahan, Comcast Cable svp, human resources, agrees: “People who do software engineering and architecture for sophisticated data and video products are in real demand and from a wide variety of kinds of companies: Google, Apple, Microsoft, MSOs, Netflix and even a household appliance manufacturer may be pursuing the same software engineering skills.”
Given that demand spans numerous industries, it’s not surprising that the Fall 2010 Salary Survey published by NACE found that engineering majors dominated the list of top-paid bachelor’s degrees.  
Sophisticated Service Skills 
As the engineers deploy new technologies, representatives in the customer call centers have to keep pace. “As the technology and products become more complex, and customers have more choices, our service reps need to be highly trained to identify exactly what will meet each individual customer’s needs,” says Strahan. “Long gone are the old days of having a rep pitch the product of the month. The customer service we provide now is much more sophisticated, and the skill sets required for positions in our call centers reflect that fact.”
Sheryl Anderson,svp, human resources and administration for StarzEntertainment and StarzMedia, points to a particularly valued skill set among cable programmers: “Anything related to digital media and IP platforms. This could be experience in business development or business affairs related to product development and management of IP media business initiatives. Those in the world of technology with digital media execution experience under their belt will have a one up on those with no IP media development experience. IP media experience is a hot button in marketing and publicity areas as well.”
Perennial Favorites
Like his colleagues, ESPN svp, human resources Paul Richardson touts the value of employees who can produce what he calls “out-of-this-world technology” in areas such as 3D, social media, mobile and gaming. But he offers good news for those whose talents lie outside the realm of high-tech wizardry: Pockets of opportunity exist for nearly all types of talent.
At ESPN, Richardson says, “We expect a healthy volume of hiring in the production studio and operations space and with the relocation of our publishing activity from New York to Bristol, Connecticut, we will provide opportunities for print professionals with experience in art, design, photography and editorial for our ESPN Magazine.”
ESPN is far from alone in casting a wide net for talented workers. Although NACE’s Job Outlook 2011 did cite engineering and computer sciences as the top bachelor’s degrees in the eyes of employers, accounting, finance, and business administration/management also ranked high on the most-wanted list.
Finally, as strange as this may sound in an article focused on evolving demands in the workplace, it turns out that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Along with its study of popular college majors, NACE asked 172 employers across industries to identify the skills and qualities they considered most important beyond the simple ability to do the job in question. The top 5 most valued attributes were tried and true classics: Verbal communications skills, strong work ethic, effective teamwork, analytical skills, and initiative.
Likewise, Richardson identified the most distinguishing traits in the eyes of ESPN’s hiring managers: “We look for confidence, pride, and the will to strive for continuous improvement.”
So even if your core knowledge doesn’t revolve around cutting-edge technology, don’t fret that your career is headed nowhere fast. Instead take a tip from Abraham Lincoln: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing.”
A good way to gain an appreciation of developments in our industry’s job market, is to look at the new job families added to CTHRA’s Annual Compensation Surveys.
Recent results are shown below.
§       Product Development / Management
§       Program Management
§       Customer Experience
§       MDU Sales Account Management
§       Technical Recruiting
§       Technical Training
§       Technology / IT Management
§       Government Relations
§       Regional Sports Programming / Production
§       Regional News Programming / Production
§       Customer Care Telephone Administration
§       Customer Care-Traffic and Scheduling
§       Customer Care-Quality
§       Carrier Commercial Sales
§       Outbound Telesales
§       Music Content
§       Production Art
§       Brand / Product Marketing
§       Home Entertainment Distribution
§       Digital Media Marketing
§       Community Affairs
§       Sales Revenue Planning / Pricing
§       Royalty Accounting
§       Advanced Technology
§       Broadcast Engineering (server-based)
§       Network Operations Coordination
§       Copywriting
§       Premium Channel Sales Training
§       Contract Administration
§       Production Financial Analysis
§       Current Programming
§       Digital Video Producing
§       Studio Remote Production-Lighting
§       Encoding
§       Integrated Sales and Marketing
§       Legal Counsel
(Pamela Williams, CAE, is executive director of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association).

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